Pigalle Square in Paris


There is probably no other place in Paris like the Place Pigalle, whose past and present are so strikingly different from each other. The modern square is located on the slope of Montmartre Mountain, which was located two millennia ago outside the city, and became famous, then, for tragic events.

Place of exploit and prayer

In the 3rd century AD, a new religion, Christianity, was rapidly spreading in Europe. Her preacher, Dionysius, came to Paris, along with several of his assistants. Here he became the founder of the Christian community and its bishop. The success of his preaching angered the local ruler. The saint and his associates were captured, tortured and sentenced to death.

The verdict was carried out on Montmartre. According to legend, after the beheading of the martyr Dionysius, a miracle happened. He got up, took his head, washed it from the blood in the spring and carried it. Only when he reached the church he built, the Saint fell and left this world.


Since then, Dionysius has been considered the patron saint of Paris. And the hill where he and his friends were executed was called the mountain of martyrs. Which sounds like Montmartre today. Later, on the site where he was buried, a temple was built and a nunnery was created. The nuns worked hard, creating a hospital, an orphanage and a school at the monastery. Montmartre was covered with vineyards and mills. But in the 18th century, the French Revolution broke out. After the execution of the royal family, the abbess of the monastery was on the guillotine. The most august persons studied in the monastery and the nuns were accused of complicity with the enemies of the people.

The monastery was plundered, the temples were ravaged, the main part of the vineyard was cut down. And Montmartre (where the Pigalle square will appear in the future) became the place of execution of the sentences of the revolutionary tribunal.

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When the storms of the revolution subsided, Montmartre became a provincial suburb of Paris, famous for mining and grinding lime there.

Bohemian life area

According to the grandiose plan for the restructuring of the French capital of the 19th century, Montmartre became part of it. It was covered with a network of new streets and squares, one of which became known as Pigalle. However, the development has retained charming inclusions of the rural landscape. For this, as well as for the cheapness of housing and the simplicity of morals, it was chosen by representatives of creative bohemia.

One of the most famous of these was the painter Salvador Dali. The genius Spaniard lived for many years near the Pigalle square, moving in the circle of the international community of talented painters and writers. Today it houses his original museum. The viewing of paintings takes place in it in parallel with listening to music in the spirit of surrealism, so beloved by the author. In addition, visitors constantly hear the recording of the voice of Dali himself, as it were, accompanying them through the halls.


The new square itself was named after the French sculptor Pigalle, who lived in the 18th century. Under the patronage of Madame Pompadour, the sculptor created statues of Louis XV, portraits of the philosophers Voltaire and Diderot. For a number of outstanding works, the French Academy of Arts made him a member, and the state immortalized Pigalle's name in the name of the square.

On the square there is a cafe "Black Cat"; hundreds of celebrities were its regular visitors. Many of them, in the absence of finances, paid with their works, which are still kept in the institution. Among the café's visitors were such talents as Pablo Picasso, Lautrec, Renoir, Maupassant and Verlaine.


The extravagant and then unrecognized Van Gogh lived nearby. He often visited "Tambourine" - a cafe, with the owner of which he was in love. This is reminiscent of her portrait against the background of her institution, which can be seen in the Museum of Amsterdam.

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Today is the square

Already at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, very free morals reigned in Pigalle Square. Nowadays, it is part of the red light district. This is a place in Paris where walking with children is not recommended even during the daytime: the doors of a sex shop are open all around, merchants are everywhere on the streets offering goods appropriate to the area. Among the inhabitants, immigrants from Asian and African countries predominate. In the evening, representatives of the ancient profession go hunting.

A place where prayer was praised for centuries or a peaceful family life flowed, today it has turned into a district of brothels, nightly cabarets and strip bars.

Getting there

Address: Place Pigalle, Paris 75009.
Metro: Pigalle.